Welcoming Honey Bees

Welcome Honey Bees!  I’ll have a sign,

I hope they think their new digs are fine.

I feel excited like Winnie the Pooh,

We’ll have lots of sticky honey,

for sweets and a cup of tea too!

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I painted the bee hive a lovely raspberry pink.  Welcoming but not over the top.  I have read several books.  I chickened out last year.  I went to a bee keeping class Sunday that reiterated everything I read in books.  I feel I know nothing!  But when I am holding that box of rumbling bees and their medieval queen, I assume that everything I have read and seen will come back to me.  That is the hope.

A year and a half ago we had a young man build us a top bar hive.  I got cold feet last year when I got the email that the bees were in after not having enough money to buy the bee keeping accessories so I sold the bees to the bee hive builder’s brother.  The hive sat over the winter and pieces of the wood are separating and expanding.  I should have sprayed it well with a protectant.  This year I painted it a spiffy color, and sprayed it with a coating that it is now well dried and should last, since once the bees move in I won’t be doing much creative maintenance to the outside of the hive.  It looks lovely.

It is under the large oak tree.  Typically one would like to face a hive south east to avoid our winds but that would face directly into the cars on the driveway.  South is the back yard, west is the goat yard, north is the neighbors house, east is the only way to face it.  The bees have two large gardens before they have to cross the street so hopefully they stop and play in the flowers instead of running into semis.  That wouldn’t be good.  The tree will provide shade while allowing bright morning sun to hit the bee apartment complex. In the winter the old oak tree will let in all the sunshine to make the little buggers happy.

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The books and the class are rather down on top bar hives.  Why?  No one has given me a straight answer but I am forced to take all the information I have stored and transfer it to a top bar hive.  Shouldn’t be too different.  These wooden blocks on the top have an edge that we rub beeswax on so that the bees will know to start their combs across the edges.  After ten wooden blocks are filled, the ones after have honey on them for us!

I will be stacking straw bales on the north side to keep the hive incognito from our neighbor.  Not that he cares, but he has a lot of friends that come over that might.  After a few beers, I certainly don’t want it to become a shooting range.

I have my smoker.  Supposedly the best material for burning is old coffee burlap sacks.  I believe Emily’s boyfriend’s family (being in the coffee business) can help me with that one.

Doug and I got two suits, jackets with zip up masks to keep our pretty faces safe from stings.  Don’t want to look like we got in a fight.  And thick gloves joined our artillery too.

Interestingly, there are over 890 types of bees in Colorado.  Most are stingless.  I did not know that.  In the class we were inspired to forget the image of Winnie the Pooh being chased by a swarm of bees.  While working in the hive, most will not care that we are there.  Just don’t wear fur.

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The thing that is keeping me from panicking this year is that at the end of last summer we were standing in a friend’s garden and I leaned over to see the herbs that were planted there.  It was a tiny garden in the city.  I glanced up and realized I was right in front of a bee hive.  Another one stood a few feet from me.  The gentle hum of working bees filled the air but they were so preoccupied (as I was) with the herbs that they had no interest in me.

In a few weeks, we welcome honey bees!

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. You will enjoy it. I seldom wear my beekeeping gear if I am just checking the hive. If I am really going to get into it I will put on the gloves and veil and use the smoker. They are an amazing creature. I have never used a top bar. I think the reason a lot of books are down on them is they aren’t as easy to work with and manage, it’s more of a natural style. I will be very interested in seeing how your new adventure goes. Good luck!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I keep reading different things, it will be interesting to compare it with other hives. Some of my friends have top bar so I can at least use them as a resource!

  2. Buffy says:

    Excited like Winnie the Pooh! Isn’t it a great feeling! I’m jealous! I would love to try bee keeping! Good lock with your new adventure!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      We may have a Winnie the Pooh fixation around here! I am nervously excited!

  3. debweeks says:

    Hubby and I have discussed bee keeping, but he hasn’t been too interested. I, on the other hand, don’t like the fact that bees are struggling for survival right now and want to add bees to our homestead one day to give them some nice pesticide free flowers and herbs. I guess you could say that I want to do my part to help repopulate bees.

    Unlike you however, when I think of bees I don’t think of Winnie the Pooh. Instead I think of “The Bee Movie.” It’s an entertaining movie that teaches the importance of bees.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      That is our main reason for getting bees as well. It is important to provide places that the bees can thrive. We also have no GMO fields anywhere near here, mostly untouched ranch land, so they will have less chance of being poisoned. I wish that more people knew though that weed and feed on their lawns kills honeybees as well!

  4. Sonja percival says:

    Welcome to the world of beekeeping, you will love it! I just wear a veil and use thin latex gloves. They are so much easier to use than the thick clumsy gloves and although the bees could sting through them, they don’t because it’s not skin, it’s just some inanimate object and they don’t bother with it.
    And nothing wrong with top bar hives. Since most of the top is closed when you are inspecting, they don’t seem to get as riled up as the Langstroths where you are removing the entire ceiling of their home!
    My favorite web site is http://www.beesource.com. I’ve learned so much from their forums. They talk about a lot of things that aren’t mentioned in books.
    Good luck!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thank you Sonja, now I know I can call you!! What a great idea with the gloves. Thanks!

  5. Sue says:

    I would like to know if you think it’s a good idea to try and start beekeeping if my town sprays with malathion every week – sometimes twice a week. I’ve lived here for almost a month and haven’t seen ONE bee.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I wouldn’t. You may spend a lot of money and lose your entire hive. Is this at your new place? That is too bad!

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